The Appeal - week 4
The Lockerbie Bombing Trial
Start: 11/02/2002 *** Updated: 17. 02. 2002
This page will keep you informed about the forth week (11.02-15.02) in the appeal of the Lockerbie Bombing Trial in Camp Zeist.
Latest and updated news at bottom of page.
Come and join the discussion: Was the verdict of the Lockerbie bombing trial unjust ?
What is going on inside and outside the court ? Is Al Megrahi going to win his appeal ?
Lockerbie Crisis Discussion Room - your opinion !
Rejection of Lockerbie Appeal Sought11/02/2002 AP/BBC (!), Reuters et. al
Prosecutors urged a court Monday to reject a former Libyan intelligence agent's appeal of his conviction for the murder of 270 people in the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland. Prosecutor Alastair Campbell, summing up his argument, admitted the case against Abdel Basset Ali al-Megrahi was circumstantial but said the trial court made the right inferences from the evidence when it convicted him last year. Al-Megrahi was sentenced to life in prison.
The appeals court adjourned until Wednesday, when the defense will call two new witnesses in an effort to show that the bomb that destroyed the plane might not have been loaded into the baggage system in Malta, as the prosecution contended. The witnesses, a former guard at Heathrow Airport and his superior, are expected to testify that they saw signs of an unauthorized entry into the baggage area at the London airport before the plane departed for New York on Dec. 21, 1988.
Since the appeal began nearly three weeks ago, defense lawyer William Taylor has attacked the credibility of key prosecution witnesses and questioned the connections between pieces of evidence offered by the prosecution. The prosecution case rested on the testimony of a Maltese shopkeeper that al-Megrahi bought clothes that police said were used to pad the bomb inside the brown suitcase that held it. Campbell said the number of circumstances pointing to al-Megrahi's involvement justified the guilty verdict, ``even if some of the inferences may be individually criticized.''
Crown submission ends by the Lockerbie Trial Briefing Unit Glasgow University
Crown submissions concluded this morning with reference to ground of appeal A, the identification of Megrahi by Tony Gauci and the remaining grounds of appeal.
Therafter the Court received confirmation from both Bill Taylor, for the appellant and Mr Turnbull, for the Crown, that arrangements were in place to hear the 'new evidence'. The Court then adjourned until 10am on Wednesday, when this evidence will be heard. (end LTBU)
Court adjourned until February 13, Wednesday
Evidence of a lock cut like butter13/02/2002 AP/BBC (!), Reuters et. al
A former Heathrow Airport security guard has said he found a baggage store padlock "cut like butter" the night before the Lockerbie bombing. Ray Manly was giving evidence at the appeal by Abdelbasset ali Mohmed al-Megrahi against his conviction for murdering 270 people in the 1988 bombing. Al-Megrahi's defence team argue that the bomb could have been placed on Pan Am Flight 103 at Heathrow. At his trial, one of the key areas of the prosecution case was that the bomb was loaded onto a feeder flight from Luqa Airport in Malta, where al-Megrahi worked.
Evidence about the reported break-in was not introduced at the trial and is only now being heard for the first time. Mr Manly was on a night shift in Terminal 3 on the night of 20/21 December 1988. He told the Scottish Court in the Netherlands that the doors separating landside from airside were unmanned at night after they had been locked. During his rounds, he spotted that a padlock securing the doors had been broken.
"The padlock was on the floor. In my opinion it was as if it had been cut like butter - very professional," he said. The court was shown Mr Manly's security report, written soon after the incident in which he described the break-in as "a very deliberate act, leaving easy access to airside". Mr Manly informed his colleague Philip Radley and police were called. But Mr Manly said he did not see any police officers that night and was only interviewed by anti-terrorist squad officers about the incident the following January, after the Lockerbie disaster.
Giving evidence, Mr Radley told the five appeal court judges that Terminal 3's landside area, where passengers arrived to check in, was separated from airside by two thick rubber doors at the end of a corridor. Access to the airside area was restricted to staff. The doors were secured by a 4ft long iron bar and a heavy duty padlock and security guards were on duty on each side of the doors. Mr Radley said he was on the nightshift on 20 December when his supervisor called to tell him that the padlock on the doors had been broken. A guard was placed on the doors - designated T3 2a and T3 2b - until the morning, when a replacement padlock was found.
The court was shown Mr Radley's log book for the night including an entry recorded at 35 minutes past midnight on December 21: "Door at T3 2a lock broken off." Questioned by Alan Turnbull QC, for the prosecution, Mr Radley explained that baggage handlers working airside would pass through the doors when starting their shift and leave the same way - unless they were delayed and the doors at T3 2a and 2b had been locked for the night. In that case, he said, baggage handlers would have to take a longer route out of the terminal and there had been complaints about having to do so. On the night of 20 December, baggage handlers had to stay late because of a delayed flight, he confirmed. Mr Turnbull suggested that a member of staff taking a short cut, could have forced the door, breaking the padlock.
Manly, who cautioned the court he might have to take a break since he was taking strong medication for a serious illness, bristled at Turnbull's suggestions that his recollections about the incident might have become confused. "I'm still suffering from the horror of it all...if someone had carried out their jobs, this might have never happened," he said.
Philip Radley, Manly's supervisor, also disputed Turnbull's suggestion that a baggage handler probably forced open the double doors that were also secured with a long metal bolt. "You couldn't break it out like that," he said. Turnbull said a muted response by airport officials and police to the incident showed they did not believe an intruder had slipped into sensitive areas at the airport. Manly said he was interviewed by an anti-terrorist squad shortly after the incident, but his story was never followed up at the Lockerbie inquiry.
Questioned by the defence Mr Radley said the detour for baggage handlers if the doors were locked was only "a couple of minutes". He could not recall any previous incident in which staff had forced open locked doors. The prosecution has also been allowed to present 11 new witnesses, to counter the new evidence. Although the court's decision to allow the new evidence to be heard can be seen as a boost to the defence case, under Scottish law the appeal judges have to weigh whether the new testimony, had it been heard at the original trial, would have changed the outcome of that case.
New Evidence Heard by the Lockerbie Trial Briefing Unit Glasgow University
The two new appellant's witnesses which the Lockerbie appeal court allowed to be heard gave their evidence today. Mr. Philip Radley, a retired security officer at Heathrow airport, testified to a padlock being broken during the night shift on 20/21 December 1988. He said that he had been told of the broken padlock on access point T32A by Raymond Manly and entered the fact in his log at 0035 on 21 December. He informed his superiors, the police were summoned and he placed a security officer at the breached access point. He recalled that the two access points between landside and airside in Terminal 3 were locked at about 2200 each night by a bar across both sides of the doors and secured with a padlock. He said that luggage tags for various airlines were not always kept secure.
Raymond Manly, also a former security officer at Heathrow, said that he was on duty on the night of 20/21 December 1988 and had discovered a broken padlock on the floor at access point T32A at about 0030. He described the padlock as "cut like butter, very professional". He also described the locking mechanism on the access points as involving an iron bar and padlock. He informed his immediate superior, Philip Radley, made an entry in the log, the police were summoned and a guard was put on the access point. An incident report was completed later. He had no recollection of Radley coming to the access point. He said that he was interviewed by someone from the anti-terrorist squad a month later.
The witness was asked to withdraw and Mr. David Burns, QC, for the appellant, said that he wanted to put a particular construction of the incident and that, in cross examination of Radley, the Crown had sought to put a different construction on the incident. As a consequence, he wanted to ask what additional security measures were put in place after the incident.
The witness Manly returned and said that he could not remember CCTV being installed in the area of the access points after the incident. In answer to questions from the Crown, he said that it would be a serious matter if an intruder managed to get from landside to airside. Alan Turnbull, QC, asked why the witness had written at the time, twice, that the padlock was "broken" when he maintained now that it was cut. Manly insisted that the padlock was cut and that it had remained in one piece, rather than two as had been suggested by Radley.
Turnbull suggested that Manly was confused in his recollection of the incident. Turnbull pressed Manly on how many access points there were in Terminal 3. The witness insisted that there was only one access point located above check-in area E. He had previously said that the access point was located in the middle of the check-in areas but insisted that this was above E, the Pan Am check-in area, which on a map was on the farthest right of the check-in areas. Manly had earlier said that he recollected roller shutter doors, but a joint minute agreed this morning stipulated that the shutter doors were not installed until 1995, three years after he retired. Under questionning, he conceded that the padlock joined two halfs of the door of the access point in the middle, however he then suggested that the padlock had secured both ends of a bar which was approximately 3.5 feet long. Under cross-examination, the Crown wished to stress that Mr Manly's recollection was confused. At times Manly was clearly irritated by the Advocate Depute and sugested that the Crown were not taking proceedings seriously.
The Crown witnesses began with Geoffrey Mayers, a security duty manager at Heathrow since 1988. He learned about the security breach the following morning when he reported for duty. He knew of a previous similar incident when he suspected a member of staff was simply taking a short-cut. Subsequently, there have been other incidents, in all of which an investigation has been undertaken. Mayers confirmed that there were two exits in December 1988. T32A was located above check-in area A and T32B was located above check-in area E. He said that, in 1988, the access points were secured at night by iron bars and padlocks.
Richard Harris, a former security manager at Terminal 3 at Heathrow for 16 years, confirmed that there were two access points on the ground floor of the terminal. The doors at the access points were installed in 1984 or 85. Prior to that, there was a single access point secured by metal shutters. The doors onT32A and T32B were secured by iron bars and padlocks. He said that a landside to airside security breach would be a serious matter. Harris said that breaches of the access points scurity would not be unique. (end LTBU)
Court adjourned until Thursday, february 14, 2002
Lockerbie trial conviction was flawed - Day 100 of Lockerbie bombing trial14/02/2002 AP/BBC (!), Reuters et. al
Evidence from six fresh witnesses fatally undermines the guilty verdict against the Libyan convicted of the 1988 Lockerbie bombing, his lawyer has told the last day of his appeal hearing. William Taylor urged a panel of five judges on Thursday to quash the life sentence passed on Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, arguing that new evidence about a break-in at London's Heathrow airport destroyed a key pillar of a shaky circumstantial case.
The hearing has now been adjourned until the court's decision is announced. Presiding Judge Lord Cullen said judgement would not come before early March. Before adjourning, he discussed with the lawyers the possibility of a retrial if the trial verdict were overturned. In final comments on the appeal's 14th day at a special Scottish court in the Netherlands, Taylor said: "It is reasonable to conclude that the verdict, reached in ignorance of this evidence, must be regarded as a miscarriage of justice."
He said evidence by security guards of a break-in at Heathrow in December 1988, on the eve of the mid-air bombing over Lockerbie in Scotland that killed 270 people, showed the bomb was more likely to have been slipped aboard the doomed jet in London than in Malta as the original judges crucially ruled. Prosecutors fought back, calling the new evidence "weak and flawed" and asking judges to uphold the conviction for Britain's worst case of mass murder. An airport baggage worker eager to go home probably broke open a security door at Heathrow hours before the Lockerbie blast, they said.
The smashed security door was vital since it gave access to areas at Heathrow where luggage for Pan Am flight 103 to New York was stored prior to take-off. Taylor said the new information assumed further importance because a Heathrow baggage worker had told the original trial that, on returning from a rest break, he found a mysterious Samsonite suitcase, matching the description of the rigged one, had been placed in one of the luggage containers to be loaded aboard the doomed plane. The bomb was later found to have exploded in that container, he added.
"These points are enough to establish a strong circumstantial case for Heathrow ingestion," Taylor said. The three judges who convicted Megrahi in January 2001 had accepted the suitcase bomb was loaded in Malta, from where it went via Frankfurt to Heathrow to be placed aboard Pan Am 103. But they acknowledged in their verdict that there was no explanation of how the rigged suitcase had made it past tight security at Malta's Luqa airport onto an Air Malta flight. "We are aware that in relation to certain aspects of the case there are a number of uncertainties and qualifications," the trial judges said in the original written verdict.
Prosecutor Alan Turnbull, making his final comments, slammed the new evidence, saying Megrahi's lawyers failed to prove how any intruder at Heathrow managed to get the bomb-laden suitcase on the right flight, which departed 18 hours later. If a suitcase with a Pan Am luggage tag for New York had been left in the luggage area overnight, there were two earlier Pan Am flights it would have been placed on. An intruder hiding in the airport during the long interval was not likely.
"The crown case is not undermined by the new evidence, which was merely another example of the speculative and hypothetical explanations, of which there were many," said Turnbull. The panel of five appeal judges at the specially created Scottish court at Camp Zeist, a disused U.S. airbase in the central Netherlands picked to allay Libyan objections to a trial in Britain, asked both sides for views on whether a re-trial could be ordered for Megrahi if the conviction was overturned.
Both Taylor and Turnbull agreed that judges had that power, but Taylor said Megrahi had the right to ask for a jury trial in Scotland while Turnbull said a new three-judge panel would sit at Camp Zeist.
Appeal Submissions End by the Lockerbie Trial Briefing Unit Glasgow University
The hearing of new evidence began today with the cross examination of Crown witness Richard Harris, the security manager for Terminal 3 at Heathrow in December 1988. Responding to David Burns, QC, for the appellant, he said that he had investigated all incidents for the week before 21 December. He had passed on to the Pam Am 103 investigators the details of the 20/21 December security breach at access point T32A. Some months later CCTV cameras were installed at access points.
Keith Willis, security superviser at Terminal 3 in December 1988, confirmed that there were two access points between landside and airside on the ground floor of the terminal, T32A and T32B. Originally there was one access point in the middle of the terminal, know as T32; he thought that this access point was closed before December 1988. He confirmed that the access doors were secured overnight, first by a central metal hinge assembly joined by a padlock on the landside, later replaced by a metal bar and padlock. This replacement took place after the destruction of Pan Am 103. Willis said that there was occasional damage to doors, possibly caused by staff taking a short-cut. There had been staff complaints at the securing of the access points at about 2000 each night.
Willis had issued a new padlock for door T32A in the afternoon of 21 December. He thought that the original padlock had been broken by a member of staff exiting airside after the door had been secured. He took police officers to view access point T32A some time later.
On cross examination, he said that he had seen no previous damage to the two access doors. The witness had completed an incident report on 21 December, in common with every other security guard at Terminal 3 after the destruction of Pan Am 103. He mentioned the security breach at access point T32A in this form. Under questionning, Willis repeated that his recollection was that the bar-and padlock security system on access points had been installed after 21 December.
The final witness, Nicola Milne, a supervisory customary services employee with Pan Am in December 1988, had previously given evidence at trial. From a copy of the World Airlines Guide, she confirmed that Nigerian Airways flight 801 to Lagos was scheduled to leave at 2030 on 21 December 1988. Pan Am 103 was scheduled to depart at 1800, the third Pan Am flight to the United States that day. **************
The court granted William Taylor, QC, for the appellant, until noon to prepare submissions on the new evidence. The appeal hearing will conclude this afternoon after the closing submissions by the appellant and the Crown. A summary of these will posted on this site later today.
In his submissions, Bill Taylor QC told the Court that the new evidence was of such significance that the verdict returned in the trial should be treated as a miscarriage of justice. He submitted that, if this evidence had been heard during the trial, it would have been important in accounting for the suitcase identified by Mr Bedford (as a brown Samsonite type suitcase) as being within container AVE 40/41 before the arrival in Heathrow of PA103A from Frankfurt and that it was also relevant to a difficulty in the Crown case regarding the ingestion of the suitcase at Luqa. He said the security breach which occurred at Heathrow on 20/21 December and Bedford's evidence relating to the brown Samsonite -type suitcase would be enough to provide a strong circumstantial case of Heathrow ingestion. He suggested that this was further reinforced by the fact that there was no explanation for the case referred to by Bedford, unless it was the bomb bag. He submitted that the appellant did not require to prove beyond reasonable doubt (the test used in respect of the prosecution case in criminal trials), that ingestion of the case took place at Heathrow. Instead the question is whether the verdict which was returned in ignorance of this new evidence amounted to a miscarriage of justice.
During his submissions, Taylor referred to the new evidence which had been heard. He submitted this evidence supported that there had been a security breach at T32A access point in Terminal 3 on 20/21 December; that the doors at T32A were secured by an iron bar and a padlock (the evidence of Radley, Manly, Myers and Harris); that only the evidence of Harris contradicted the method used to secure the doors; that, although there were discrepancies in Radley and Manly's evidence regarding the damage to the padlock, this was not material; the evidence suggested that the damaged padlock was found near door T32A; there was no evidence of damage to the iron bar which had secured the door; there was evidence of accessibility of luggage tags; that the evidence indicated a break-in from landside to airside; that the only contrary explanation for the security breach is an assault on the door by baggage handlers; there was no evidence of damage to the doors; the evidence suggested that all baggage handling would have finished before a door was locked as otherwise a member of staff would usually have been stationed at the door at T32A and that there was no evidence of how senior management treated the incident at the time but that the subsequent installation of CCTV at T32A suggested that this point had been identified as a secuirty risk.
Taylor submitted that the verdict reached in ignorance of the new evidence must be regarded as a miscarriage of justice regardless of whether the appeal court judges felt that the trial judges had misdirected themselves in respect of appeal points B1-B10 and the relevant parts of C. He submitted that, if the trial court had misdirected itself on other matters, then the suggested ingestion of the bomb bag at Luqa is undermined and the strength of the new evidence is enhanced. He suggested that the ingestion of the case at Luqa was weakened by the evidence from records at Frankfurt airport, the procedures at Luqa airport, the x-ray procedure at Frankfurt and that fact that infiltartion of a bomb at Luqa involved complexities that would not be encountered at Heathrow.
Taylor accepted that he faced a difficulty as an insider would have been required in Heathrow to assist in the loading of the bomb bag onto container AVE 40/41. He said that he did not overestimate this difficulty, however, and suggested that his position was essentially no different from the Crown and their failure to provide direct evidence as to how the case was ingested at Luqa. He suggested that the secretion of a case for a period of time and then its introduction to container AVE 40/41 could not be said to be impossible.
He closed his submissions by referring to the fact that Lord Cullen had yesterday invited Mr Turnbull to adress the court on the question of a re-trial. He indicated that he may seek to address the judges later this afternoon on this point.
Mr Turnbull, for the Crown indicated that his submissions would be under two headings:
(1) What the evidence establsihes, and
(2) The effect the evidence as established should have.
On the first point Turnbull said that the evidence showed that a paflock was damaged sometime before 0030 on 21 December 1988 and that as a consequence the doors at T32A were left open. He suggested that it was no clear what had caused the damage. Manly's evidence was described as totally unreliable. He suggested that damage to padlocked doors by staff taking short cuts was not unknown and had occurred when baggage staff were detained due to delayed flights and had to break out of the airside area. Nigerian Airways flight WT801 was delayed leaving Terminal 3 on 20 December 1988. Records suggested that it had been due to leave at 2200 but a witness heard today, Nicola Milne, had indicated that a departure time of 2030 was listed in the World Airways Guide. Mr Turnbull suggested that this discrepancy was less relevant than the fact that the flight had not left until 2350 hours. He suggested that it was also influential how the security bnreach had been treated. He accepted that Mr Radley and Mr Manly had acted as they would be expected to but said that there was no record of the police attending the scene.
He said that the balance of evidence showed that there was a change in how the doors to the access area were secured. He suggested that Mr Willis had given the clearest evidence on this point. Mr Willis had suggested that the doors were secured by flange and padlock between the two doors. Harris was clear that such a system was used prior to the bar and padlock being introduced. Turnbull also urged the court not to loose sight of evidence that the doors had been strengthened after the broken padlock incident.
Mr Turnbull said it was also of significance that employees with security passes could pass through access points without being searched and that there were three Pan Am flights from London Heathrow to New York on 21 December 1988. He submitted that if the bomb bag was infiltrated as a result of the security breach a number of complications arose: the person would require to activate the bomb and this would either have had to be done before getting to the sirport or while airside which would risk detection and there is no evidence as to why the bomb bag was not introduced to one of the earlier Pan Am flights. If the Bedford evidence was accepted that the bag was placed on containder AVE 40/41 between 3.30-4.30pm on 21 December, it must mean that the bomber deliberately tagged the suitcase for PA103. The fact that it was not Bedford but his colleague Kerboch that lodaed the bag onto the container suggests that it was tagged and that is why he knew where to place the bag.Turnbull said there was nothing to suggest that the passengers on PA 103 were a target that would encourage this to be a target flight.
He submitted that the tests laid down in the case of Cameron had not been fulfilled by the appellant. He rejected Mr Taylor's submission that the appellant's suggestion of infiltration at Heathrow is equivalent to the suggestion that infiltration occurred at Luqa. Mr Turnbull said that there are 9 features of the Crown case which is evidence which the court relied upon and which is unaffected by the additional evidence. These include:
1. The purchaser of the clothing was Libyan and the timer used was supplied to the Libyan Secret Service. The plot was promoted by the Libyan Secret Service.
2. The clothes used to camoflague the bomb were purchased in Malta which demonstrates that a Libyan went to Malta to further the plot.
3. Frankfurt records have been shown as capable of tracking luggage.
4. Frankfurt records demonstrated that an unaccompanied bag travelled on KM180. Although the security procedures at Luqa airport were designed to prevent the introduction of an unaccompanied bag, the witness Borg, accepted that this would be possible.
5. The clothing in the suitcase suggested that the case started its journey in Malta.
6. The promoters of the plot, Libya, had Libyan Arab Airlines operating from Luqa airport.
7. The appellant was a prime mover in the plot. He was identified as the purchaser of the clothing and flew to Luqa Airport on 20 December 1988 using the false identity passport that had been issued to him as a member of the JSO.
8. The appellant was present in Luqa airport during some of the time that KM180 to Frankfurt was being loaded. He was returning to Libya. He did not leave Libya again using this false passport.
9. Malta provided an airport easily accessed by Libyans.
Mr Turnbull submitted that this evidence all supports the Crown case and that no feature of the additional evidence is consistent with the promotion of a plot by the Libyan Secret Service. The new evidence would not have a bearing on a critical issue at trial and therefore the court should refuse the appeal.
Having closed his submissions in respect of the new evidence Turnbull then dealt with the question of a re-trial. It is open to the Court to quash the conviction and order a re-trial. Turnbull was of the view that such a re-trial should take place before 3 new judges. Mr Taylor's submitted that the terms of the order in council left the option of a trial in Scotland before a jury and this option would be open to Mr Megrahi if he was to be re-indicted. The matter was not resolved.
Lord Cullen undertook to give at least seven days notice of when the court would give its decision. This will be comunicated to parties and also to the public in a press release. He stated that this would not be before the beginning of March. Lord Cullen then gave thanks to Counsel for the care and helpfulness in preparing their submissions, those responsible for the operation of the court and those involved in translation etc. (end LTBU)
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